In a move that probably surprises to no one, I can confirm reports that Echostar subsidiary Sling Media halted Slingbox production last year.
Sling Media, the video place-shifting pioneer, has stopped manufacturing Slingbox units, but will continue to sell Slingboxes that remain still in stock, Satellite Business News reported in its January 6 issue.
In fact, this seems like such an obvious and natural progression given the state of the industry and what I assume have been poor, waning sales, it didn’t even occur to me to blog the development. Of course, Slingbox was Blake Krikorian’s pioneering and liberating technology that brought us TV Everywhere before that phrase had been coined. Yet we always suspected it was something of a transitional approach, with much of that video streaming functionality now offered directly via television providers — originating either from their set-tops or the cloud. Granted, it’s more locked down and ad-infested – but also way more accessible to the general populace.
The Slingbox M1, introduced back in 2014, is effectively the last Slingbox… as it was rebranded the M2 in 2015, featuring no hardware changes but an expanded focus on advertising — part of a last ditch effort to justify the businesses continued existence. Similarly, that Slingbox hardware was intended to be partially repurposed as AirTV… but that was ultimately replaced by a different technical approach and outsourced hardware production.
Fortunately, existing owners have nothing to fear in the short term as Slingbox services will carry-on. Although I wouldn’t hold out hope for much in the way of application enhancements.
So what comes next?
While most don’t realize it, Sling Media is more than the Slingbox. Heck, before joining DISH and Echostar, the company streamed NFL for DirecTV. More recently, as Echostar’s skunk works group, they helped cram Slingbox placeshifting functionality directly into the DISH Hopper and have been key participants in both Sling TV and Jetblue video streaming.
But, I gotta tell you, this upcoming pivot seems somewhat… unusual. Based on a number of sources we have learned Sling Media is working on SlingStudio, a video production ecosystem. The suite was anticipated to be a CES reveal this month, yet was obviously a no-show. However, based on extensive details published by a product designer, we have some good visuals of the SlingStudio iPad “Producer” app interface and capabilities:
SLINGSTUDIO ENABLES VIDEO ENTHUSIASTS TO EASILY SYNC VIDEO FROM MULTIPLE CAMERAS, MIX IT INTO A SINGLE MULTI-VIEW VIDEO, AND LIVE STREAM IN REAL TIME.
And from a beta tester:
We recently signed up to be a beta tester for SlingStudio, which is a new product in a “box” that allows you to aggregate video feed from an iphone 6 and any HD camera or variety of HD cameras. Using an iPAD Air and their proprietary app, you can choose which feed you want to record to program, so in essence this easy set up would permit multicam record plus it can go live as well.
And from an engineer:
Studio Portal is a cloud-based companion to Sling Studio. In its first iteration, it provides an easy cloud-based way to upload, annotate, and share personal videos created with Studio, and syndicate them widely using YouTube. When users purchase Studio, they will set up a cloud account, either via web or through the Producer app. The Producer app may remember login and can access the Studio Portal any time it’s connected to the web. The Producer app will allow uploading the output video, as well as associated metadata, to the user account in the Studio Portal.
Beyond SlingStudio app functionality and cloud services, we’re told to expect related video hardware. Indeed, the published usability testing references a StudioBox with a power button and light… that presumably helps ingest (transcode?) and transfer video from a variety of sources, like a GoPro or similar.
As to when this may be released, for how much, and what it might be worth to you remain to be seen. I’m not into action sports and don’t imagine I’ll be launching a vlogging empire on YouTube Live anytime soon… making me wonder how big the target audience could be or what other pieces of the puzzle we don’t yet know.